Tributes paid to retiring Ballyclare High teachers

Ballyclare High School has paid tribute to a number of retirees, for all their accomplishments for the pupils, the staff, and their influence on the wider community here in Ballyclare.

“They have given outstanding contributions to our lives here and we will sorely miss them as teachers, colleagues, and friends. We wish you all every happiness for your retirement and the next stage of your journey,” said a statement issued by the school.

Mr Trevor Coleman retires from the Art Department after 34 years of service. He started teaching in Ballyclare High in 1988.

The school said: “Mr Coleman was involved in many extra-curricular aspects of school life, but it is probably the school musical production and the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme that he made his biggest contribution. Mr Coleman was a valued member of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition staff accompanying the pupils to Adara in Donegal over many years.

Retiring staff at Ballyclare High School with Principal Dr Rainey.

“Over 36 years of school productions, Mr Coleman consistently created a dazzling array of innovative sets and props for Gilbert and Sullivan operatic productions with Mr Dallas in his early years to more recently Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera.

“Mr Coleman’s skill as a set painter was not only recognised by the school community at Ballyclare High but also Belfast Operatic Society who for many years he created stage sets for productions at the Grand Opera House among other venues.

“But above all his best role was as himself, a kind and generous man who always had time to help others.”

Mrs Julie Gaston started teaching in Ballyclare High in 1993 and for the next 29 years has inspired both pupils and staff to culinary heights. She has been the driver behind all the catering at the events held and has produced many inventive dishes, unique in thought but always delicious.

The school said she is “a person who is always willing to help she goes the extra mile to support pupils and staff whether at the side of a sports pitch or athletics track, celebrating or commiserating she has always been there. We think she may even get a royal warrant for her brownies yet, following on from her presentation of a box of these to Prince Edward on his visit to school.”

Gareth Lenaghan is also retiring after almost 30 years at the Rashee Road school.

The school spokesperson stated: “As he embarks on retirement, an ocean of former pupils and colleagues cherish their experiences of being taught and led by this true Ballyclare legend. After 35 years as a teacher and 29 in Ballyclare High, his name is synonymous with excellent teaching, innovative classroom practice and gracious leadership.

“For decades, he has shaped the culture of our school community and his imprint will be felt for years to come. His lifelong devotion to Ballyclare High School can be in no doubt.

“He jumped at the chance to return as Head of English in 1993. Mr Lenaghan is passionately dedicated to promoting the power of reading to transform minds and lives and was instrumental in promoting reading across the curriculum and in developing the vision for the new school library, the jewel in our current school building.

“Mr Lenaghan was promoted to Senior Staff in 2007, with responsibility for Teaching for Learning. Beyond the classroom walls, Gareth’s commitment to Ballyclare High pupils has been relentless. For 35 years, he has spent Saturday mornings with school rugby and cricket teams and his holidays on tours. School music was another great love of his career.”

Mrs Julie Richardson joined Ballyclare High School on September 1 2007 as Head of Careers and as a member of the Geography Department.

The spokesperson explained: “Her arrival was a coming home as she had enjoyed seven happy years as a past pupil at the school, her husband was Head of Physics in the school in the 1980s. and both her sons, Jamie and Michael attended the school.

“From the very start, irrespective of what task or role she undertook, she put her absolute heart and soul into it. She has managed to keep all the ‘plates spinning’, an impressive feat especially during the busyness of key events such as results days and work experience.

“Mrs Richardson has led a very successful careers programme which she has evolved and refined over the years providing expert guidance to thousands of pupils.

“As an integral member of the Geography Department, her colleagues valued her wisdom and experience. There have been countless Geography fieldwork visits over the years and a momentous trip to Iceland where Mrs Richardson was particularly at home.”

Mr Simon Thompson will be retiring after 36 years of committed service to Ballyclare High School as a valued member of the PE department.

The spokesperson said: “His competitive personality made him well known across all schools. Whether it was Badminton, Cricket or Rugby, the opposition team knew they were never going to get it easy.

“As a past pupil of Ballyclare High, Mr Thompson rose through the sporting ranks, where he developed a real eye for detail, honing his technique and developing his skills across various sports.

“An extremely talented player in both Badminton and Cricket in his adult years too, he was rewarded through numerous leadership roles within teams in which he played and in more recent times when he was selected for the Irish Masters Badminton Team to travel to France to compete in the Forza Nations Cup in 2018.

“His biggest achievements as the 1st XI cricket coach were winning the McCullough Memorial Cup in 2004 and the Ulster Schools’ Plate in 2018. Within Badminton winning the Ulster Senior Girls’ Cup in 2007 to winning the treble with the Senior Boys in 2008.”

Miss Janet Scott commenced teaching in Ballyclare High in 1980 and will be leaving the south Antrim school after 42 years of dedicated service to both pupils and school.

The school spokesperson said: “She moved to become Head of Department in 1988 and held this role for 19 years overseeing many transitions, most notably the change from O’ Level to GCSE, the introduction of coursework and Key Stage 3 exams.

“In 1995 she was asked to be a HOY temporarily, but ended up in this role for 22 years, her last year group finishing in 2017. So, for 12 years she was both HOS and HOY which reflects on her ability and skills to combine and fulfil all these roles simultaneously.

“However, it does not stop there, her keen mathematical mind was also a blessing for the school timetable, and she has worked on 30 years’ worth of timetables. A challenging and meticulous task which benefits us all. Miss Scott continued her commitment to school life outside of the classroom through Scripture Union.”

Mr John Whincup began his teaching career at Ballyclare High School on September 1 1977. When the doors close on the June 30, He will have given 45 years of service to the school.”

Commenting on his retirement, the school spokesperson said: “A former pupil, Mr Whincup was already a familiar face in the school corridors. Sport was of particular interest to him in school. As a member of the 1st XV rugby team, he won the Schools’ Cup in 1973 and he was Ulster Boys’ Senior Long Jump Champion and the 100m finalist in athletics.

“He went on to represent Northern Ireland at the 1976 British Indoor Athletics Championships. However, it was his skill as a geographer that brought him back to his alma mater. Mr Whincup has made an immense contribution to the educational progress and pastoral well-being of countless pupils.

“Mr Whincup has always loved the great outdoors. He has enjoyed countless fieldwork visits and had the knack of giving pupils independence with control. There was also foreign Geography fieldwork conducted from Iceland to Mount Vesuvius and the Amalfi Coast. “His experience in organising trips is also apparent in his leadership of the annual ski trip for the last 15 years.

“Mr Whincup has been involved with rugby in the school, coaching the 1st XV for 12 years and then the Medallion XV. In athletics he coached the long jump and triple jump for over 35 years with a highly impressive success rate gaining over 40 Ulster and Irish titles.”

Mr Alan Wilson commenced teaching in Ballyclare High on January 15 1997 as Head of Languages.

The school spokesperson said: “His love for his subject, French, was infectious and extended to outside the classroom where he established the longest running exchange partnership between a school in Northern Ireland and a school in France Lycée Camille See Colmar. Thousands of children have been involved with this exchange programme over the past 27 years.

“Mr Wilson also represented Secondary Level Education in the Royal Irish Academy for nine years.

“His passion for his subject was noted at the highest levels when in 2010 he was awarded the prestigious title of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the Président of the French Republic, for his distinguished contribution to French education.

“He was also involved in securing the British Academy Language Award for Ballyclare High School in 2014 and International School Award for 20 years, an incredible record.

“Mr Wilson is also a valued and highly respected member of the French A level Senior Examination Team at CCEA. He was also fully involved with the extra curricular programme leading the French debating team to win the National Competition in 2005.”

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